Pound the Keys and Drop the Pounds

James Scott Bell

I was presenting at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference last month, and a fellow writer told us about this doctor who’s invented a treadmill desk. His theory, this doctor, is that you have to move a little to lose a lot (thus the title of his book, yes, Move a Little, Lose a Lot). Our bodies at rest (like when we’re sitting and typing) slow down the metabolism and preserve our body fat, so we have enough energy to run away from a mastodon should it invade our cave.
So says this doctor. But if you work at your desk and walk at the same time, hey! Drop those ugly pounds while you’re answering emails or talking to clients!
Reminds me of that scene in Woody Allen’s Bananas, where product tester Fielding Mellish tries out a prototype exercise desk, with less than optimal results. Have a look:


Now Dr. James Levine, of the Mayo Clinic, seems to have ironed out all those bugs. The only problem is that his desk costs around five grand. Here’s a picture.
Always looking for a way to save a few bucks (or a few thousand), I figured out a cheapie alternative. As in zero dollars. I already have a treadmill. And I have an AlphaSmart Neo. I just stuffed a towel in the gap between the bar and console, and rested Alphie on top.
Walk at a steady 2.5 and . . . type!
Here is your intrepid correspondent, shedding pounds and creating art, under the watchful eye of Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront.

This must make me the very definition of a lean, mean writing machine.
Which leads to today’s question: where is the strangest place you’ve ever written?  
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24 thoughts on “Pound the Keys and Drop the Pounds

  1. Laptops are wonderful things. I’ve written on a bike, on a dike, way up a mountain on a hike. On a ramp, near a tramp, in the dark with a lamp. On a boat, in a train, at a table in the rain. In a car, in a bar, in a building filled with sheep. On a stool, by a pool and in a room where things went beep.

    Long Live Dr. Seuss.

  2. I suspect this answer will quickly be surpassed, but: on a Greyhound bus between Boston and New York. The seat in front of me was reclined, so the laptop screen was actually angled toward me. And being 6’5″, I couldn’t crane my neck or hunch my arms at a comfortable angle to type for very long.

  3. I’ve written in the back of a van. I don’t mean the back seat – I mean the truck portion of an SUV/the hidey hole behind the third row of seats. I’ve also written under a staircase, in the bathroom (don’t ask) and in the rafters of a garage. I also just realized that I hide a lot when I write, so either I have security issues or someone is stalking me. Maybe I’m just kind of Garbo in my writing preference. “I vant to be alone.”

  4. This is completely off topic — I apologize — but I came across this quote that seems so apt for a blog about writing.

    “A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” Thomas Mann

    Perhaps you pros have seen it before (I hadn’t), but I think it resonates on several levels.

  5. You all are way beyond me. I’d probably end up with a broken body part if I tried writing on a treadmill. I prefer a cup of tea and a nice quiet spot. I’m with Dina. “I vant to be alone.” But I enjoy comfort way too much. I have been known to write a bit during a sermon, but that doesn’t do much for weight loss.:)

  6. Philip, it certainly is a little more difficult on a treadmill. I need a spell check.

    And Jillian, make sure it looks like you’re writing notes on the sermon topic…

  7. I am not known for my coordination or athletic prowess so writing and walking on a treadmill would only spell twisted, sprained or broken limbs for me! I have written in a tent, however, with my iPad propped up on my knees. Not really all that cool although I was in Sequoia National park and we had just seen two black bears ambling along behind our campsite. As you can tell, I like to live dangerously…

  8. Strangest place I’ve ever written? Walking down an aisle at the grovery store…in a car going through a carwash…and on the back of a 4wheeler while hubby was cutting down a bad limb in a neighbor’s yard.

  9. My wife works for Steelcase, a leading office furniture and work environment company. Their WalkStation is built for exactly this purpose, with a surface and plugins for a laptop. It moves at a steady 1.5 Mph (I think), not so fast that typing is difficult or phone conversation is breathy, but enough to keep the heart rate elevated a little.

  10. That’s a great way to create words that move your readers while moving yourself. On Paul Greci’s blog (http://wp.me/EjVa) there’s a photo of him walking a treadmill and writing. I admire those of you with that kind of coordination. 🙂

    I don’t think I’ve written anywhere that qualifies as strange, but one of my favourite spots is sitting on a log by the lakeshore at our wilderness cabin (no electricity there but the laptop gets recharged via a generator).

  11. Dana, it seems like this idea is sort of catching on, if there’s another market like that. Multi tasking, only one is physical, the other mental. Maybe there’s something to this.

    Carol, sounds like one of those ideal writer settings. I’m such a city boy, though, I’d probably need a sound machine that makes traffic noise.

  12. I write on my recumbent bike with two boxes on the outside of me holding my tablemate higher than my knees. Thinking about getting a keyboard to connect to my laptop to work on instead of the laptop keyboard. I love how the gift of creativity inspires ways to overcome the potential obstacles to good health for those who feel not writing is a slow kind of death in and of itself. Writing on treadmills and bikes and trails speaks well to our desire to write at all times even while exercising.

  13. I set my lap top on a five foot tall bookcase, push my small stairstepper up close and step away while I do e-mails, post on internet sites and write. Works well and is cheap. Only extra piece needed was the small stairstepper. And, I write wherever, whenever I can.

  14. Are you writing on a Neo? You are WAY more talented than I am, to walk and type. But then we already knew that, says she who nearly had to stop even breathing to look multi task and look at your picture. 🙂

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